Project Walnut

03 Dec 2012

Moonlighting on game development with kids is hard.

It’s happened a few times now: I’m looking for an idea for my wife’s birthday, or a valentine’s gift, or an anniversary, whatever, and I think: “I should make her a game!”

Usually, I don’t think of it until a day or before the event in question, so there’s no way I can put one together in that amount of time. This time though, I gave myself the time I needed; I started planning 3 months ahead of time.

As it turns out, that still wasn’t enough time.

Seriously, between kids, a full-time job, and a gnarly commute (which is thankfully over), finding a chunk of time to work on this when I wasn’t already exhausted was a miracle. Most of the work on this was done on a rare day off in September: I set up shop in a mall food court with my laptop and cranked out as much as I could.

It’s a tiny little adventure game, and even working on it for a full 2 months I only got the first few minutes playable in time for our anniversary. Oh well.

Those first few minutes look like this:

In an earlier version I gave Zelda-style scrolling a try:

It worked, and I liked the way it felt, but it didn’t work well with the way I was building my maps: lots of tedious comparing different screens to make sure things lined up properly, and really easy to make mistakes.

I used the Sparrow Framework to handle image loading, font rendering, and the like. I don’t know if I’d use it again: I ended up working around the framework’s scene graph, instead of working within it. It’s not a bad setup by any means, it just doesn’t fit my head well.

I used Tiled to build the maps.

I’d like to release the source to this one day; it’s not anything I’d put up for sale on the App Store. Before I do that I’ll need to replace the sprites and background tiles; they were snagged from Final Fantasy 6 and the Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, respectively.